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Dec 5, 2012 12:20am
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LOS ANGELES —The journey began when he was just a teen, still playing in his
native Scotland. Jacoby Jones Jersey . Much has been made of
the Vancouver Whitecaps becoming the first Canadian team to reach the Major
League Soccer playoffs in just two seasons. But coach Martin Rennies journey to
the MLS post-season has taken much longer—about two decades. “Its everything
Id hoped it would be, and a little bit more,” said Rennie about coaching in MLS.
The Falkirk products career began after his local side did not have a coach, so
he mentored the troops while also serving primarily as a central defender. With
a potential pro career scuttled by a knee injury suffered while trying out for a
North Carolina-based team in a now-defunct league, he obtained a business degree
in his homeland and worked in sales and marketing for a large software firm. He
mixed his day job with playing and coaching for a while, but preferred the
latter. Before and after he stopped working for the software firm, coaching took
him to Oregon, where he coached the Cascade Surge of the Premier Development
League; to Cleveland Stars of the third-tier United Soccer Leagues Second
Division, to the North Carolina RailHawks, where he spent the past three seasons
building a contender. Along the way, he turned his clubs fortunes around, just
as he has done with the Whitecaps, who finished last in 2011 under two coaches
but squeaked into the playoffs with a fifth-place finish and 11-13-10 record.
“Its exciting for me just to be back in a position where I have a real challenge
ahead of me and a hunger to do well,” Rennie said. “I think, sometimes, when
youre at the same club or the same level for too long, you lose a little bit of
that desire, that hunger.” In addition to serving as coach elsewhere, he had to
handle many other duties to keep operations running smoothly. Occasionally, his
wife did the teams laundry. “I used to often pick people up at the airport or
things like that,” he said. As a result, the eldest of a Church of Scotland
ministers three sons who had a modest upbringing, has come to appreciate the
Whitecaps large front-office staff. Majority owner Greg Kerfoot, has shown a
willingness to spend money where needed in a bid to build a model franchise.
“Theres just a lot more people doing a lot more things,” said Rennie. “That
allows you not to have to worry about the little details. If someones injured,
hes being well taken care of. If (a player) needs help getting a visa, theres
someone doing all that. Theres just a lot more people helping. ... Theres a lot
of people doing a lot more things that people take for granted. But they do make
a lot of difference in the success of the team.” Rennie has tried to make a
difference initially by turning the Whitecaps into a team that is hard to play
against and stressing the positive to a team that did not win a single road game
in its expansion season. He has stressed the importance of building a winning
culture while trying to introduce a compact style that, by his admission, the
team got away from late in the season. “Tactical and psychological things are
primarily my main areas that I focus on, and the (assistant) coaches work hard
on as well,” he said. “I think the players have bought into that. As a result,
Ive grown a little bit.” Rennies players praise him for his business-like
approach, attention to detail, positive attitude and strong organization. The
one player who did not buy in, rarely used striker Long Tan, was traded after he
posted a critical comment of Rennie on Twitter. Tan was suspended for a week and
the Caps soon traded him to D.C. United, although Rennie said the deal was in
the works before Tan made his controversial posting. Given virtually a free hand
by president Bob Lenarduzzi to shape the team as he saw fit, Rennie also tried
to grow the team by engineering a series of trades and signings in mid-season.
The signings included fellow Scots Barry Robson, an emotional midfielder and
commanding presence when he is on his game, and soft-spoken striker Kenny
Miller, who has not displayed the scoring prowess expected of him, but still
shows a willingness to answer reporters questions on bad nights. Rennie also
made a goalkeeping change, replacing veteran Joe Cannon, a former MLS goalkeeper
of the year, with relatively unproven backup Brad Knighton. The coach also
placed considerable faith in Jamaican rookie striker Darren Mattocks, 22, who
overcame a slow start due to burns to his arms suffered in a cooking accident,
to lead the team in scoring with seven goals. Rennie said the changes are
comparable to what he has done in seasons past. But many of the moves had
limited results. Following a hot start, the Whitecaps enter the playoffs with
just one win in their last 10 games. They have not posted a road win since July
and managed just 10 goals away from B.C. Place Stadium. Whatever happens
Thursday, Rennie will have important decisions to make on what is needed to beef
up his clubs offence and figure out what to do about the high-priced Miller and
goalkeeper Cannon, among others. The decisions could come relatively soon or a
little bit later, depending on how the Caps fair against the favoured Galaxy.
Either way, its clear that Rennie wants the Whitecaps to do more than just make
history by reaching the playoffs. “Every season that Ive coached, my teams have
managed to make the playoffs, so Im glad that weve managed to achieve that,” he
said. “But its more about what we do going from here.” Terrell Suggs Jersey . DeMar DeRozan scored
23 points and the injury-riddled Raptors beat the Atlanta Hawks 102-86 on Sunday
night for their second straight win over a playoff-bound team. Ray
Rice Youth Jersey
. The third overall pick from this years CFL Draft, Pencer will join the team
for the start of rookie camp today. Torrey Smith Jersey . Two of Texas four hits
all night came in a two-pitch sequence. Josh Hamiltons biggest contribution
wasnt at the plate, but two tremendous run-saving catches in the field. Ray
Rice Jersey
.S. teammates were winning a gold medal. Griffin is
doing drills and running this week as he continues rehabbing from the July 16
surgery to repair a medial meniscus tear of his knee that he suffered during
practice with the U.DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony
Stewart caused the first accident of Speedweeks. Stewart, who did little wrong
in last years season finale and clinched his third NASCAR title, rear-ended Kurt
Busch during practice Friday for the exhibition Budweiser Shootout. Stewart
turned Buschs No. 51 Chevrolet sideways, collecting four others. Penske Racing
teammates Brad Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger, as well as Kyle Busch and Jeff
Gordon, also were involved in the six-car accident about 45 minutes into the
first practice session. “I was pushing the 51 car and he had to move a little
bit, but Im still the one pushing so Im responsible for it,” said Stewart, who
was transported to the infield care centre, treated and released. The cars of
Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Keselowski and Allmendinger sustained
significant damage. Stewarts crew decided to fix his car. The other four teams
switched to backup cars. Gordons car sustained minor damage. The Budweiser
Shootout, a non-points race, kicks off the 2012 season Saturday night. Its
considered a warm-up event for the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 26, the
series premier event. Martin Truex won the poll for the Shootout in a random
draw Friday night. “Its the first time that we get back on the track and
everybody is aggressive, learning what the limits are,” Keselowski said.
“Sometimes you get caught up in that. ... Its better to do it now than next
Sunday. So hopefully well learn something from it and be good to go.”— BAYNE
ON THE BEACH: Defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne went for a spin in the
sand Friday morning, driving his race car down a stretch of Daytona Beach in a
salute to NASCARs roots. “This is probably the coolest thing Ive gotten too do
outside of racing on other tracks,” said Bayne, who became the Daytona 500s
youngest winner last year at the age of 20. Torrey Smith Youth Jersey. “I wish we could
come back out here and get the groove rutted up a little bit and try to miss the
potholes. This is an unbelievable feeling being on the beach where it all
started.” Before moving to Daytona International Speedway in 1959, NASCAR raced
on a temporary track running partly on the beach and partly on an adjacent road
from 1948 to 1958. Today, passenger cars still are allowed to drive on the
beach. —
OSBORNE AWAY: Bob Osborne, the crew chief for Carl Edwards, will be
away from the No. 99 team this weekend after the death of his father. He is
expected to return to the team next week to prepare for the Daytona 500. Chip
Bolin will fill in for Osborne. Bolin is the head engineer for Roush Fenway
Racing and previously worked as Matt Kenseths Sprint Cup crew chief. Edwards is
making his sixth Budweiser Shootout start Saturday night. He has led 54 laps in
his previous five starts, his best finish is seventh in 2009. —- TRACK TECH:
NASCAR has entered a multiyear agreement with FanVision to rent and sell
handheld multimedia devices for use at racetracks. The controller has a 4.3-inch
screen with access to live broadcast feeds, eight onboard cameras, official
timing, data, statistics, instant replays and a digital radio scanner. It rents
for US$49.99 per weekend when ordered online and $59.99 per weekend when rented
at the track. It can be purchased for $299. Fans will no longer be able to rent,
purchase or activate a previous multimedia device used at racetracks, called
FanView. Owners of the previous device may be eligible for a credit toward the
purchase of a new FanVision controller. ’ ’ ’ 

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